Wow. Just, wow. I touched on the QAnonsense topic before, but since returning to Twitter recently with a @nomagicbullets account, I’ve been running into this special kind of crazy a lot more frequently and I find it very frightening.
For a detailed history of this growing cult, see Adrienne LaFrance’s piece, The Prophecies of Q (part of The Atlantic’s series on conspiracy theories, Shadowland). In short, Q (Q Anonymous or QAnon) is an alleged intelligence agent or high ranking military officer, or something of that sort, who is secretly feeding the public information through lesser known social media platforms. That alone sounds pretty suspicious, but it gets crazier when you find out that Q speaks in code; vaguely referencing things that could be interpreted in a number of different ways. Unlike real leakers, who share actual government documents, or real whistleblower complaints, where a clear accusation of wrongdoing is laid out, Q has got his followers debating what he really means. This also means that they are able to reinterpret his words when things don’t pan out the way they originally believed they would. Furthermore, some will say that Q has put out select pieces of disinformation to help hide his/her identity, so they can fall back on that too, when the prophecies don’t add up.
The big picture story that Q is selling goes something like this. Rich, influential liberals (from billionaires and Hollywood figures to politicians and media personalities) are part of a secret network of pedophiles, who are protected by, and/or working with, the “Deep State,” to control virtually everything. The CIA and other intelligence agencies, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, and all of the Mainstream Media (MSM) are in on it. At this point it should already be obvious to anyone not sinking in the quicksand of fake history that this is a classic conspiracy theory – too vast to be at all plausible – but we’re just getting started.
The alternative fact world of Q is built upon a foundation of lies going back to the assassination of President Kennedy. As I said, followers have different conceptions of the details and what’s most important, but here are some common themes:
- JFK was the last good Democrat.
- JFK was the last fairly elected President.
- JFK tried to warn Americans about a military-industrial complex, Mafia, CIA, FBI, Freemason, communist, Rockefeller, Jewish cabal, or something like that (which is a popular belief among many non-Q related conspiracy theorists as well). The faithful can’t always agree on who is in or out of the inner circle, so they just call it the “Deep State” as a general shorthand.
- JFK was murdered by the Deep State (DS) and they have largely been in control of things since 1963.
- At some point, these people who can operate outside the law and outside news media scrutiny, became an international paedophile cult, and possibly Satan worshipers, or something along those lines. Maybe they already were this, before they murdered JFK? Not sure, but children are being sexually abused on a massive level and you are heartless if you don’t agree that we need to save these children.
- The Clintons are key members of the DS, or leaders commanding it, and they have been murdering people with impunity for decades to keep their secrets.
- One of the people the Clintons killed was JFK Jr, who they saw as a political threat. He knew what the DS had done to his father and he wanted to stop them, so he had to be taken out.
But, wait for it, there is a dramatic plot twist (and here is where the biggest point of disagreement seems to separate deferent denominations of the Q faithful). JFK Jr. knew that the Clintons were going to kill him, so he faked his own death and has been laying low for the last 20 year, making plans in coordination with Donald Trump. Part of the plan was for Trump to get elected president and break the corrupt power structure, so that JFK Jr. can return and be Trump’s new running mate come November. Then JFK Jr. will take over and run for president in 2024. After 16 year of Trump/JFK Jr. the DS will be broken and our republic will be restored to the people. Can I get a hallelujah?!
No, I did not make this up. People actually believe it. To be fair, some Q disciples don’t have their head this far in the rabbit hole. Some are even mad about what they consider to be false or nutty disinformation, and they insist that JFK Jr. really is dead and Q has confirmed it. Still, the fact that they are willing to believe the story up until JFK Jr. being alive is disturbing enough, and the fact that they needed Q to confirm this for them, rather than law enforcement officers and journalists, speaks volumes about how far removed they too are from reality.
Among those who are awaiting the triumphant return of JFK Jr., to avenge his father and free us from DS bondage, there are also two distinct camps. One group thinks that Q is actually JFK Jr., while the others are unsure. Maybe Q really is a high ranking officer, maybe he is Trump? Whoever he is, the one thing they can all agree upon is that Q has an unstoppable plan.
Q’s predictions have yet to come true on anything, but that has not deterred the faithful from believing and inviting others to, “Wake up.” Q has told them that 5 or 6% of us will stay asleep no matter what, but any one can join them who is willing to “do the research” (hang out on untrustworthy, pro-conspiracy websites that have no established checks and balances) and be a “critical thinker” who rejects the “narratives” we are being sold by the MSM (including the “narrative” that the world is not run by a network of internationalist child sex traffickers).
If you think this kind of talk sounds familiar that’s because it’s mostly the same old conspiracy theorist claptrap, regurgitated and reheated generation after generation. Conspiracy theorists are always in the know and the rest of us are idiots who can’t think for ourselves. But the Q movement, or cult, has the potential to be a particularly virulent one. This was evident in 2016 when Edgar Maddison Welch fired an AR-15 rifle in a family restaurant, because he was convicted that this pizza place was really a front for the sexual trafficking of children; run by, or connected to, Hillary Clinton. This was a pre-Q fake news story, but it is very similar to what the Q faithful are now preaching. Welch demeaned to be let into the basement but seemed to fall into confusion after he realized there was no basement. Luckily, he surrendered to police after that. It could have been a whole lot worse.
Now imagine what happens when JFK Jr. fails to materialize and then Trump loses the election. These people think there is a plan to take down the evil forces that have been controlling America for more than half a century. They are fighting against the worst of the worst – child rapists, who can do anything they want, anytime they want – and Trump is their last hope. If he can’t do it, what will they feel compelled to do?
Hopefully most of these people will see the error of their ways, to some degree, and drop all this QAnonsense once it doesn’t pan out, but there is no guarantee. They may move on to the next conspiracy theory, or they may continue to believe a version of Q that is able to morph into a 2.0 cult. Regardless, there is alway the danger that unstable/fanatical types could follow the Welch example, on steroids. Think Timothy McVeigh. What did McVeigh believe? That an out of control government had to be stopped. That the America way of life was in danger. That he had to take action to save us from degeneration. McVeigh was very much a conspiracy theorist, and a potential harbinger of what is to come.
When I expressed this sentiment on Twitter, the idea that Q followers could end up going McVeigh, One user got upset with me and tried to explain how Q is all goodness and light.
Even if this person is correct and the Q movement is not a bigoted one, as that term is commonly understood, there is certainly a good deal of self-righteous hatred motivating these people. They have no doubt that career government officials and “liberals” cannot be trusted and many seem to believe these groups are downright evil. How far will they go to protect America from the corrupt, child molesters, who murdered President Kennedy and countless others? Armed with nothing more than their phony conceptions of history to guide them, do you really think all of these people will accept Trump’s defeat as a mere electoral setback? The stakes for them are too high to plays by the rules of the game, when they know that game is corrupt.
Equally troubling is the religious, cult-like, language that this same user naturally fell into during our exchange.
I don’t know what “facts” this person thinks are “verifiable,” but I can see how Q’s followers are gleaning what they want from the movement, here and there, in order to believe and find a sense of purpose.
“The way is simple.” It’s almost Zen like. But the information they are gathering isn’t true and they don’t act like free thinkers; in any philosophical or scientific understanding of the term.
Most disturbing of all were the tweets I received from a user who told me, very matter of factly, that Timothy McVeigh was really a trained operative of the Deep State.
How insulted and disappointed McVeigh would be to find out that he murdered all those people, including children, and sacrificed his own life for the cause, only to be dismissed as just another false flag paw in an ever growing, ever changing conspiracy. And, once again, if you believe as this Q follower does, that the DS would train an American to murder his fellow Americans in mass, and that the DS has the god-like power to cover this up from us “sheep,” what will you feel justified doing to stop them? Sounds like a breeding ground for McVeigh-style logic to me.
The fundamental rationale of Q followers is the same as any other group of conspiracy theorists. Their reality isn’t grounded in facts, it is made up of malleable pieces of an endless puzzle. Historical figures are no more real to them than Professional Wrestlers, Soap Opera Characters, of Reality TV Stars. If you need someone to be the villain, they’re a villain. If you need them to turn into the hero, they’re a hero. They don’t even stay dead. Whatever the story requires is presumed possible.
In President Kennedy’s time there were right wingnut conspiracy theorists, like the John Birch Society and the Minute Men, who were convicted that JFK was an active Soviet Agent, who was trying to bring down the United States by pushing for Civil Rights legislation and other liberal programs. The day before JFK arrived in Dallas, fliers began appearing on the street saying that he was, “Wanted for Treason.”
Even those on the right who didn’t go full nut job were often very critical of President Kennedy and thought he was not up to the task of protecting the United States from the Soviet Union. In one infamous incident, Ted Dealey, the publisher of the Dallas Morning News, was visiting the White House when he told JFK, “We need a man on horseback to lead this nation and many people in Texas and the southwest think that you are riding Caroline’s tricycle. The general opinion of grassroots thinking in this country is that you and your administration are weak sisters.”
Today’s right has largely forgotten this reality and the wingnut Q followers have transformed JKF into a martyr for their cause. I don’t know how many times I have heard or read self-professed conservatives say that President Kennedy would stand with them today. To justify this belief, they point to selective facts, like, “JFK was against abortion and he was a lifetime member of the NRA,” which ignores how much things have changed in these areas since Kennedy was President. Abortion only became a issue that politicians felt they had to take a stand on after Roe vs. Wade in 1973 and the NRA was little more than a social club until it was taken over by a hardcore ideological group of activists at a national meeting in 1977. To imagine that JFK’s thinking would not have evolved along the same lines that other Democrats did (including his brother Ted and the rest of the Kennedy family) is to ignore who the man was; a Democrat and a liberal, to his core.
JFK Jr. chose not to go into politics, but he did not walk away from his father’s beliefs, and he was no fan of conspiracy theorists. When he started George magazine his staff convinced him to have dinner with Oliver Stone, for a potential interview, but John Jr. couldn’t stand listening to Stone’s craziness and left early, telling a friend, “I just couldn’t sit across the table from that man for two hours. I just couldn’t.” Such realities, and the fact that John Jr.’s sister is an outspoken Democratic, mean nothing to the Q crowd. JFK Jr., like his father, is cast into the role they want him to play in their narrative; the actual human beings are unimportant.
Like all conspiracy theorists, the Q crowd are freed from the constraints of the real world. This allows them to venture as far as they are comfortable into their imagination. Unlike most other conspiracy theorists, however, the Q faithful are confident there is a plan; a conspiracy to counter The Conspiracy and finally allow the American people to overthrow their hidden masters. This is not harmless entertainment or just some nutty, irrelevant idea, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. I hope that Q does not become an object lesson in the dangers of conspiracist thinking, but I find it hard to believe that it won’t.
FINAL NOTE: Shortly after completing this post I came across a disturbing article on VOX about the fact that at least seven Republican candidates for national official have openly shown their support for the Cult of Q.
U P D A T E
After posting this, Donald Trump’s son, Eric, posted a message on his Instagram invoking Q.
I also learned that the FBI has classified the Cult of Q as, “conspiracy theory-driven domestic terrorists.”